Empress Gemmei bigraphy, stories - Monarchs

Empress Gemmei : biography

660 - December 29, 721

,Spelling note: A modified Hepburn romanization system for Japanese words is used throughout Western publications in a range of languages including English. Unlike the standard system, the "n" is maintained even when followed by "homorganic consonants" (e.g., shinbun, not shimbun). In the same way that Wikipedia has not yet adopted a consensus policy to address spelling variations in English (e.g., humour, not humor), variant spellings based on place of articulation are unresolved, perhaps unresolvable – as in Empress Gemmei vs. Empress Genmei, which are each construed as technically correct. also known as Empress Genmyō, was the 43rd monarch of Japan,Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): according to the traditional order of succession.Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 56.

Gemmei's reign spanned the years 707 through 715.Brown, Delmer et al. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 271; Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki. p. 140; Titsingh, Isaac. (1834).

In the history of Japan, Gemmei was the fourth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The three female monarchs before Gemmei were: (a) Suiko, (b) Kōgyoku/Saimei, and (c) Jitō. The four women sovereigns reigning after Gemmei were (d) Genshō, (e) Kōken/Shōtoku, (f) Meishō, and (g) Go-Sakuramachi.

Traditional narrative

Before her ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, her personal name (imina)Brown, pp. 264; prior to Emperor Jomei, the personal names of the emperors (imina) were very long and people did not generally use them. The number of characters in each name diminished after Jomei's reign. was Abe-hime.Brown, p. 271.

Empress Gemmei was the fourth daughter of Emperor Tenji; and she was a younger sister of Empress Jitō by a different mother. Her mother, Mei-no-Iratsume (also known as Soga-hime), was a daughter of Udaijin Soga-no-Kura-no-Yamada-no-Ishikawa-no-Maro (also known as Soga Yamada-no Ō-omi).

Events of Gemmei's life

Gemmei became the consort (nyōgo) of Crown Prince Kusakabe no Miko, who was the son of Emperor Temmu and Empress Jitō. After the death of their son Emperor Mommu in 707, she acceded to the throne.Ponsonby-Fane, p. 56. At least one account suggests that she accepted the role of empress because Emperor Mommu felt his young son, her grandson, was still too young to withstand the pressures which attend becoming emperor.Titsingh, p. 63.

  • July 18, 707 (Keiun 4, 15th day of the 6th month): In the 11th year of Mommu-tennō 's reign (文武天皇211年), the emperor died; and the succession (senso) was received by the emperor's mother, who held the throne in trust for her young grandson. Shortly thereafter, Empress Gemmei is said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).Brown, p. 271; Varley, p. 44; a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Go-Murakami.

  • 707 (Keiun 4): Deposits of copper were reported to have been found in ChichibuPonsonby-Fane, Richard. (1915). The Imperial Family of Japan, p. x. in Musashi province in the region which includes modern day Tokyo;
  • 708 (Keiun 5):, The era name was about to be changed to mark the accession of Empress Gemmei; but the choice of Wadō as the new nengō for this new reign became a way to mark the welcome discovery of copper. The Japanese word for copper is (銅); and since this was indigenous copper, the "wa" (the ancient Chinese term for Japan) could be combined with the "dō" (copper) to create a new composite term – "wadō" – meaning "Japanese copper."
  • May 5, 708 (Wadō 1, 11th day of the 4th month): A sample of the newly discovered Musashi copper from was presented in Gemmei's Court where it was formally acknowledged as "Japanese" copper;Japan Mint Museum: and a mint was established in Ōmi province.
  • 708 (Wadō 1, 3rd month): Fuijwara no Fuhito was named Minister of the Right (Udaijin) . Iso-kami Marō was Minister of the Left (Sadaijin).Titsingh, p. 64.
  • 709 (Wadō 2, 3rd month): There was an uprising against governmental authority in Mutsu province and in Echigo province. Troops were promptly dispatched to subdue the revolt.
  • 709 (Wadō 2, 5th month): Ambassadors arrived from Silla, bringing an offer of tribute. He visited Fujiwara no Fuhito to prepare the way for further visits.Titsingh, Aoki (1989: 149)Aoki, Kazuo et al. (1989). Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 12: Shoku Nihongi I, p. 149. (in Japanese).
  • 710 (Wadō 3, 3rd month): Empress Gemmei established her official residence in Nara. In the last years of the Mommu's reign, the extensive preparations for this projected move had begun; but the work could not be completed before the late-emperor's death. Shortly after the nengō was changed to Wadō, an Imperial Rescript was issued concerning the establishment of a new capital at the Heijō-kyō at Nara in Yamato province. It had been customary since ancient times for the capital to be moved with the beginning of each new reign. However, Emperor Mommu decided not to move the capital, preferring instead to stay at the Fujiwara Palace which had been established by Empress Jitō.Varley, p. 140. Empress Gemmei's palace was named Nara-no-miya.
  • 711 (Wadō 4, 3rd month): The Kojiki was published in three volumes. This work presented a history of Japan from a mythological period of god-rulers up through the 28th day of the 1st month of the fifth year of Empress Suiko's reign (597). Emperor Temmu failed to bring the work to completion before his death in 686. Empress Gemmei, along with other court officials, deserve credit for continuing to patronize and encourage the mammoth project.
  • 712 (Wadō 5): The Mutsu province was separated from Dewa province.
  • 713 (Wadō 6, 3rd month): Tamba province was separated from Tango province; Mimasaka province was divided from Bizen province; and Hyūga province was divided from Osumi province.
  • 713 (Wadō 6): The compilation of Fudoki was begun with the imprimatur of an Imperial decree; and copies of the census of the provinces of Izumo, Harima, Hitachi and two other provinces still exist. This work was intended to described of all provinces, cities, mountains, rivers, valleys and plains. It is intended to become a catalog of the plants, trees, birds, and mammals of Japan. It also intended to contain information about all of the remarkable events which, from ancient times to the present, have happened in the country.
  • 713 (Wadō 6): The road which traverses Mino province and Shinano province was widened to accommodate travelers; and the road was widened in the Kiso District of modern Nagano Prefecture.
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